Portland, ME – The Portland Pirates roster has become a revolving door as of late, with injuries, illness and call-ups.
Today is no exception, as Portland will have a couple of new players in the lineup tonight when the Pirates travel to Lowell for tonight’s game.
Pirates’ coach Kevin Dineen has brought in Kenny MacAulay from the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL because of the injuries and illness that’s besieged the Pirates blueline in recent days. MacAulay will be in the lineup tonight because Mike Card (illness) is not expected to play for tonight.
MacAulay started the season with the Fresno Falcons before they ceased operations prior to Christmas. He signed with a free agent contract with Stockton just a few days later.
In 38 games, he leads all defenseman on the Thunder with 23 points (3g, 20a) and a plus-10 rating.
Another change in the Pirates lineup has been in goal as Bobby Goepfert has left the team for an opportunity to play in Europe. To replace Goepfert, Portland has signed John DeCaro from the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL.
Goepfert knew he wasn’t going to see much playing time with the Pirates being a backup behind Sabres prospect Jhonas Enroth, so he began looking for opportunities elsewhere, which didn’t make Dineen very happy.
“Goepfert decided to play in Europe,” said Dineen. “We need to find a responsible goalie to come in here and do the job as our second goalie.”
You could say that’s strike three for Goepfert when it comes to his relationship with Dineen.
DeCaro has been impressive in the ECHL this season, going 10-4-0 with a 1.94GAA and 0.933 save percentage. He’s also record one shutout with the Wranglers this season against Bakersfield.
Besides the newcomers to the Pirates lineup, several players are still out of action or listed as question marks for game time.
Mike Funk (concussion), Adam Dennis (hip), Colin Murphy (concussion), Paul Baier (jaw) and Mike Weber (knee) are still all long-term injuries on the Pirates roster, while Dylan Hunter and Tyler Bouck skated today as red-shirts, not clear for full practice.
Nathan Gerbe was back in the lineup after missing one game with the flu and Tim Kennedy was skating as well, albeit, looking like he was in pain. He will be a game-time decision for tonight, which is amazing in itself.
Kennedy took a two-handed baseball type swing to the mouth from Manchester’s Gabe Gauthier and as a result loss several teeth. Kennedy has undergone a couple of procedures to repair the damage, like needing a couple more.
As a result, Dineen said Kennedy would miss the All-Star game in Worcester because he still needed to have more dental surgery.
There has been no word from the AHL regarding a possible suspension to Gabe Gauthier for the incident because of carelessness with the stick.
Besides the injuries, the Pirates understand the importance of tonight’s game against Lowell. They currently sit in fourth place in the Atlantic Division, four points behind the Providence Bruins who are in first. The Lowell Devils are in fifth place just five points behind Portland.
“It’s about going out there and getting our execution going and getting consistent play out of everybody and letting the players who are new here know the importance of the points,” said Dineen.